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State security agents arrest website editor

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about the detention of Ahmed Mahmoud Abdallah, the second website or blog editor to be arrested since late October, and called for his immediate release. A former editor of "Al-Shaab", an opposition newspaper that was closed down, he was arrested on 5 December 2005 in Cairo by members of the Amn-El-Dawla state security agency.

"Website journalists and bloggers should enjoy the same legal protection and respect as journalists working for traditional media," the press freedom organisation said. "The decision to arrest a journalist or blogger is serious and should only be taken in the course of transparent judicial proceedings, which was not the case with the two arrests of website and blog editors of the past six weeks."

Ahmed Mahmoud Abdallah, who is better known as Abu-Islam Ahmed Abdallah, edits the news website Balady Net (http://www.baladynet.net). He has also written many books and is a member of the Union of Egyptian Journalists. He was arrested while at the Centre for Islamic Enlightenment, which he heads. Before going to his office, the state security agents searched his home, confiscating notes, books and computer disks.

Ahmed Mahmoud Abdallah is being held at the office of a prosecutor attached to the state security agency. His website has been shut down.

According to Manal and Alaa (http://www.manalaa.net/), a website that won in a category sponsored by Reporters Without Borders in a recent blogs contest organised by the German media outlet Deutsche Welle, Abdallah was able to phone his son and told him that he had not been given any reason for his arrest and that no lawyer was present while he was questioned. The state security agents reportedly told him he would be held for about two weeks.

His son said Ahmed Mahmoud Abdallah is suffering from high blood pressure as well as a foot injury. The Committee for Trade Union Freedom has provided him with a lawyer in the hope of expediting his release. His family has also called for his release in a letter to the state prosecutor.

Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a young student and blogger who uses the pseudonym "Kareem Amer", was arrested by the state security agency on 26 October 2005 for criticising the government and Islam. He was freed on 13 November 2005.

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